Pick up an ordinary basket and look closely at the weave. You’ll find an ancient yet simple way of making something that’s durable, flexible, and resilient.
In fact, a basket’s weave is a great model for how we might interact and learn with others more deeply. We need durability and resilience in our relationships too .. to me, a weave is a powerful way to think about “crossover” in all our interactions, especially when we seek to collaborate.
The power of the basket weave metaphor lies in its very basic structure. The over/under aspect of a basket weave reinforces the notion of complementary, diverse elements. One thread or strand of cane provides support from one angle, which is further supported in the other direction by another. These are connected and supported by yet another thread or strand on the perpendicular axis, creating structure, and ultimately, strength. The tighter the weave, the more durable the resulting creation.
Aristotle was a big fan of metaphor, and I am too. Like so much in our world, we take useful concepts (like metaphor and basket weaving) for granted. But what could we gain if we dig a bit deeper? Is there untapped power in our mental models?
To me, there are 3 areas where I think the notion of a basket weave can help our collaborative efforts:
Unlocking Creativity. Artists are well versed in the flow of possibility that occurs when raw materials begin to show their potential. How might the threads or strands come together? What patterns are possible? How might we weave something new?
Inception of Ideas (or “ideation”). Each thread of insight brings new energy and strength from a different direction, supporting the other threads but in a different way.
Design Thinking. Coming up with new ways to solve a problem (solution patterns?) is at the core of design thinking, where structure, form , function and relevance demand diverse thinking from muliple perspectives.
As we bring together design elements or ideas, we are bringing together strands of raw material. As innovators, we are like basket weavers. As collaborators, our ideas are like threads. Our soution may well be the resulting basket.
Here are a few questions to drive this thinking home.
Q1. What challenges do we face when we seek to weave together ideas?
Q2. Why are notion of durability and flexibility important?
Q3. Have you seen examples of ideas woven into a “solution fabric”?
Q4. Where and how else might we apply the basket weave metaphor?
We’ll discuss these topics WEDS 10/16 at 9pET using hashtag #cdna, and again in the social change context with SMCHAT cofounder & special guest moderator Kelli Schmith WEDS 10/23 at 1pET using hashtag #smchat.
I must point out that idea weaving is already in progress. Props to Angela Dunn, Shell Rummel and the crew at #ideachat who provided deep insights on “Design Thinking” that contributed to this post. To me, the richness of the weave metaphor provides plenty of inspiration, or at the very least, some new thinking based on a very old way to make baskets.
More on metaphor? See G.Lakoff: Metaphors We Live By (1980). In The DNA of Collaboration (2012) it’s chapter 6.
Let’s compare notes on this. I’ll see you online.
Chris aka @sourcepov